Horse races such as the Dubai World Cup, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Grand National regularly make headlines for the amount of prize money handed out to entrants. However, this week one Derby Day has made headlines for all the wrong reasons when it comes to prize money. The Lingfield Winter Derby was labelled “ridiculous” by trainers and owners due to the lack of prize money on offer to participants.
While Lingfield’s Winter Derby won’t take place, the Grand National will and fans can bet on Bet365 at Grand National 2019 time. The two races that had been planned for February 23rd, the novice stakes and mile novice stakes at Lingfield, were called off due to a lack of runners. Could a boycotting of races due to prize money be a sign of things to come?
Why are trainers and owners upset?
On Thursday, February 21st, two days before the Winter Derby, trainers and owners expressed their unhappiness with the prize money set out for the two races. This year’s prize purse was set at £4,500 for each race. It was a £1,300 decrease from last year’s prize money.
The five-furlong novice stakes had no entries declared while the mile novice stakes had just one horse declared for the race. Nick Littmoden’s Greybychoice was the only horse entered into the race.
Due to the race being called off, Grey bychoice was awarded the £4,500 prize money by default. Littmoden stated he would donate the money to the Injured Jockeys Fund rather than keep it.
Why was the prize money slashed?
Lingfield is owned by Arena Racing Company. The group has slashed all race prize money this season by £3 million. ARC has cut money due to the British government’s new rules on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT). The new rules could potentially cut a number of betting shops.
According to trainers, it isn’t financially viable to transport their horses for a race paying under £5,000. Some trainers have compared the money between the Winter Derby and other races at the weekend. In some cases, prize money is nearly double at other racecourses.
One race that some trainers have sent their horses to is Chelmsford. The racecourse will hand out £8,000 in prize money. Chelmsford is owned by Betfred creator Fred Done and the racecourse has been continually praised for its contributions to prize money purses.
ARC responded to the decrease in entrants for its Winter Derby claiming it is not in the position to pay out large sums of prize money anymore.
Is Lingfield unique in prize money?
According to Littmoden, the situation at Lingfield is not unique. Some of the races trainers and owners are competing in are not offering enough prize money to make the event financially viable for the race team.
The British Horseracing Authority, National Trainers Federation, Racehorse Owners Association, and Racecourse Association have all entered into talks to see if they can fix the prize money situation. The groups want the prize money to be raised to encourage trainers and owners to race. Whether they can be successful is a big question that no one has the answer to currently.